From the pages of The Worker pictures of protests against the cuts, attacks on services and employment rights. Familiar themes…..
And the occasional meeting
“The picture space was crammed with figures and in the centre was a grim portrait of Pinochet with his henchmen and their victims floating in a river of blood. A bleeding Allende was also shown. Above the dictator, a giant male figure flanked by red flags carried by trade unionists strained mightily to break the chains that bound his wrists, while below the people marched forward holding aloft a flame of resistance.”
From Left to right: Ken Hume (Chile Solidarity Campaign trade union organiser), Mrs and Mr Alvaro Bunster (ambassador to Britain from the Allende government and President of the Chilean Anti Fascist Committee), John Boyd, Luis Pavez (CUT) the AUEW’s President Hugh Scanlon, Elaine Nicholson (interpreter) and Maureen Scott (artist).
It was painted in a gesture of solidarity, a mural in support of Chile for the Peckham headquarters of the AUEW. While a symbol and expression of the AEUW’s internationalism, the mural was taken into the AUEW museum shortly after it was unveiled in July 1976. The protest music of Chile, typified by the work of Víctor Jara, became an integral part of the Chile Solidarity Campaign in Britain. It was not alone in using culture to foster solidarity among trade unionists around the world in the hope that they would use their power to mount an international blockade of Chile’s commerce as explored in Ann Jones’ study , (available here) No Truck with the Chilean Junta.
The artist, Maureen Scott, was among the many talented and creative people drawn to political activism in the ferment of the 1960s . From August 1971 in the League of Socialist Artists (LSA), Maureen Scott, and other members of the group, notably her co-worker and husband Mike Baker (1972-90), and Bernard Charnley were active in politically motivated art projects.
Maureen Scott (b. 1940, Coventry), trained at Plymouth College of Art, Goldsmiths’ and St Martin’s while Bernard Charnley (b. 1948), a graphic artist studied at Leeds College of Art were based at 18 Church Street, Camberwell ,The Communard Gallery, until 1975. Here they had exhibition space where they exhibited their own work, delivered lectures, published the poetry of the Turkish Communist Nazim Hikmet, The Wall , with illustrations by Scott, and generally promoted the cause of socialist realism. Amongst the titles they published was the 1973 polemic, “Liberal populism or revolutionary proletarian realism in art?”: a reply to John Weber of the Chicago Mural Movement and in 1976, the illustrated book, Class War in the Arts!
The LSA members were in addition to their artist activities were members of a small left-wing group, the Marxist Leninist Organisation of Britain. At the organisational hub of the MLOB, Maureen was also the LSA’s Provisional Secretary.
The League favoured the style of socialist realist art, and politically orthodox . “Our art must serve revolutionary politics. We place our art unreservedly at the service of the working class.”
“Within [the] overall tasks of the proletarian socialist revolution a role of unprecedented importance devolves upon… creative artists. For it is precisely through art that science., the knowledge, understanding and experience of the laws of motion of the universe, including particularly of human society, is distilled… artists, whether of the visual or the dramatic arts, are no less than “engineers of the human soul” [JV Stalin]… “Proletarian socialist art is a reflection in artistic form of the class struggle between proletariat and bourgeoisie… The method of artistic creation of proletarian socialist art is therefore proletarian -socialist realism…”
“We Socialist Artists declare our aims and work to stand completely apart from and in irreconcilable opposition to the formalism and commodity fetishism of capitalist art which serves at one and the same time to mystify the movement and conflict of social classes, to preach and inculcate the helplessness of man before the “unknowable” universe, and the “atomic chaos” of the “existentialist” society – as also to provide the effete, luxury loving ruling class with those soporific, sensationalised and alienated titbits which might, for an hour or a day, provide an anodyne to bring forgetfulness of the moment of doom for their class which the approaching proletarian-socialist revolution is bringing ever nearer.”
Socialist realism was the only path: “In place of the pop art, mobile junk, psychedelic and other fringe lunacy of decaying capitalist art we will erect an art which expresses the dignity of working people, into which life is breathed from out of their very struggles…”
The “Theses on Art,” were put forward in 1972, by the “League of Socialist Artists”; this version was first made available by American political allies in Alliance, issue number 8, with the poems of Nazim Hikmet, illustrated by Maureen Scott. Their co-thinkers praised the contribution:
“We have still not found a better and more concise and clear expression of Socialist aesthetics and thus offer this in web form.”
“unfortunately typical of many, small, ultra-left political groups that they expend more energy attacking potential allies than their principal opponents.) Nevertheless, LSA members contributed to the Art Workers’ Subcommittee of the Artists’ Union, to ‘United We Stand: Exhibition in Solidarity with the Miners’ (London, Congress House, 1974), to a conference on art education and to a conference on art/politics, theory/practice held at the RCA in 1974.”
In discussing their cultural endeavours John Walker argued that: “Despite their left-wing rhetoric, in certain respects the LSA artists were conservatives: they believed in representation not abstraction, employed traditional techniques such as painting and drawing, accepted art galleries as places to display work and the necessity for artists to make a living by selling their products as commodities”
~ Walker, (2002) Left Shift: Radical Art in 1970s Britain. London: I. B. Tauris p51~
1972 Manifesto & Theses on Art 22 pages, published by League of Socialist Artists. 9780950297613.
1973 Communard Gallery – forthcoming programme: Paintings, prints, posters, propaganda material for the working class movement (January 1972, 15 pages). 9780950264912.
1973 “Liberal populism or revolutionary proletarian realism in art?”: A reply to John Weber of the Chicago Mural Movement publish date January 1973, 13 pages, 9780950297644.
1975 Paula Modersohn-Becker,1876-1907
1975 In commemoration of Nazim Hikmet (1902-1963)
1976 Maureen Scott, Essays on art and imperialism – art and socialism
1976 Class War in the Arts!: The League of Socialist Artists V. the “art and Culture’ Agencies of Monopoly Capital : a Collection of Documents in Struggle against Corporate Reaction in Art Produced by the League of Socialist Artists since Its Foundation in May 1971 . 0950154075
1977 Manifesto & Theses on Art. 3rd ed (19pages)
That Wall is a poem depicting the mass terror and widespread horror thrown up by capitalism-imperialism in the era of its senility. It is a poem showing one side of class struggle – the side which arouses the greatest feeling of revulsion and loathing, and which many well-intentioned people, particularly the type of liberal intellectual which forms the main prop of the revisionist parties, cannot accept. It does not lay emphasis on the strength, the creativity, the resource and unbounded resilience and reserves of the working masses who have the power to rise and destroy this ultimate product of man’s class-divided prehistory, and in this respect may be considered a pessimistic poem. I have nevertheless felt that, in an age when renegade ‘socialists’ seek to cover up the true face of capitalism, representing its ruling monopolist oligarchy as ‘striving for peace’, ‘more reasonable’, ‘interested in the preservation of mankind’, etc., the true face of brutality revealed to tens of millions of struggling peoples in all the continents of the world should find expression in images striving to portray the essence of capitalism-imperialism, and thereby helping to educate all those temporarily taken in by the illusion of relative class peace to a true stance of proletarian internationalism. For so long as exploitation, oppression and war should continue in any corner of the globe, it is necessary to strip away the false mask which the objective allies of imperialism give it, to make it stand exposed in all its diseased violence and inhumanity, so that working people the world over may unite the quicker in the titanic struggle to topple the ‘colossus with feet of clay’, and to usher in the era of socialism and communism. This aim, in my view, Nazim Hikmet fulfils in a powerful and convincing way in this poem.
Maureen Scott 1973
Maureen Scott life from Facebook
Maureen Scott was born in an air-raid in Coventry in 1940 and this experience has broken through in her agitation and political art all her life. “Political protest painting has been the central part of my body of art starting in various art schools and continuing throughout my life.” Years of struggle and poverty with marital breakups, child loss, abusive relationships have influenced a serious of paintings on homelessness, grief and the perpetual study of the oppressed.
Maureen Scott’s earlier work deals with the struggles of the working class. Her painting Unemployed (1972), was created in a bedsit during a particularly difficult time in her life. The work expresses the issues she faced in the conditions her family were living in at the time. Having to paint by candlelight due to no electricity and having a lack of relevant support, she found her family relationships strained. The painting itself bears the marks of this austerity, with burn marks at one edge. The stark harshness and realism of Scott’s work act as a call to arms, to stand up and resist power imbalances and social injustice.
For three days a week, Scott painted by the light of a single electric light-bulb and for the rest of the time by candlelight due to her financial circumstances in the 1970s.
Unemployed (1972) reflects the challenges her family faced and the struggles of the working class – small living spaces, unemployment and the lack of child support.
“This painting was set in my one room with just space for my cooker on the Holloway Road,” she says. “The gloomy light was from a single light bulb and my hope for room to work and breathe only lay in dreams of success as an artist.”
She describes the piece as autobiographical. The father-figure is her partner at the time who died from a second heart attack. He had refused to take medication after the first. “It was a terrifying death I found impossible to deal with,” she said and underwent bereavement therapy in the 1990s
In the 1990s recovering from bereavement therapy and a pause from painting I returned to still life oil painting and rediscovered my love of colour. [http://maureenscottartist.com/index.php/still-life-studies/]
Maureen began drawing and painting as a small child. She went on to attend Plymouth College of Art in the early 60’s, then Goldsmiths College and Central St. Martins in the 70’s. At the age of…. she suffered a breakdown after her husband died and was admitted to Maudsely Hospital. Despite these turbulent years Maureen has accomplished a great deal including having her poetry published, working in Fleet Street as a professional litho printer and showing her artwork in exhibitions in the Whitechapel Gallery, Galerie Poll in Berlin and as far afield as Delhi and the USA.
Her work is in collections such as the Museum of Modern Art, Utrect and the Museum of Labour History in Manchester and Bethlem Archives and Museum.
The work on show at the Bethlem Gallery presents a side to Maureen’s work that is rarely seen. Her accomplished brush strokes reveal a sense of the artist’s daily life and what she sees around her; a mother and child in the kitchen, the veg for the evening meal, a favoured cat sitting on the tablecloth. The exhibition introduces us to the person behind the politics and invites us to enjoy the simple things in life.
In preparation is War Paint is a new book covering the artist and poet’s most productive period from 1990 to present day.
“I could not live without canvasses, paint boxes, and easels. I was born with images in my head and I have a compulsion to make these images real. Some images are happy, some horrific. Some use colour the effect the viewer. My pictures are where I make the life I want to live. Unlike some fashionable, thus mega-rich artists who claim they believe in nothing, I am the opposite. I am full to the brim with everything and it over flows onto my canvass. I cannot stop it.”
* * *
“Painting, for me, is literally a process of getting the images out of my head, I see an image and have to paint it.”
– Maureen Scott
It doesn’t get that much coverage in the British mainstream media but there is material out there on the complex contemporary revolutionary struggle that has been sustained in India for half a century ~
Communist Party of India (Maoist) Documents, Statements, and Interviews of Leaders
International Committee to Support the People’s War in India
News from the struggles
or search these out ~
http://library.redspark.nu/Azad Maoists in India Writings & Interviews
For most of the Seventies the Communist Party of Britain (ML) held the stewardship for friendship and solidarity with the People’s Socialist Republic of Albania. There were many strands to the relationship.
There were the set piece visits to Albania as guests at trade union and Party congresses, and the calendar of activity reflected important celebrations in Albanian revolutionary history as the CPB (ML) held public meetings and carried reports on Albania in the pages of The Worker that, typically were one-sided celebratory view of the Albanian experience.
There were three visits to Albania in 1969: Jim Farrell and another CPB (ML) industrial comrade were guest of the Albanian trade unions in the May; Ted Roycraft, CPB (ML) Secretariat member, led a six member delegation (that included Danny Ryan of Bristol CPB (ML) in the October; and in November, Chairman Birch was in Tirana for the 25th Anniversary celebrations of the founding of Socialist Albania.
During that visit, during a conversation with Enver Hoxha, the Albanian party leader was quoted as praising The Worker as providing “thoughtful and helpful analysis and commentary on the struggle of the working class in Britain.”
Such visits were taken as physical demonstrations of fraternal links, they provided the opportunity for exchange of views and first hand observations of a socialist country.
“A tour of Albania is in many ways a miniature of China. Everywhere there are Chinese machinery, equipment and technical experts. This is real international Marxist‐Leninist cooperation and solidarity. Mao’s name is greatly revered by all. His pictures and quotations are found in every factory along with pictures of Enver Hoxha and other giants of history.“ The Worker June 1969 quoted in https://www.marxists.org/history/erol/uk.hightide/high-tide.pdf
The Worker October 1969 CPB(ML) DELEGATION TO ALBANIA
SIX MEMBERS of the Central Committee of the Communist Party of Britain (Marxist-Leninist) are at present in Albania at the invitation of the Central Committee of the Albanian Party of Labour.
All members of the delegation are workers and they will also be meeting representatives of the Albanian Trade Unions.
Their visit coincides with preparations all over the country for the celebration of the 25thAnniversary of the liberation of Albania from fascist occupation. The Albanian Working people are not only successfully fulfilling plan targets but have undertaken special pledges of endeavour in all fields to meet with a balance sheet of great socialist achievements the nation-wide celebrations of this Anniversary on November 29th.
Not only on the industrial front have workers surpassed the estimated level of production in the metallurgical and chemical enterprises and the supply of building materials but they have also achieved great success & in the food industries and have nearly completed the electrification of the countryside a whole year ahead of schedule.
The Worker December 1970 GREETINGS TO ALBANIA
Greetings on the 26th anniversary of the founding of the People’s Republic of Albania. The Secretariat of the Communist Party of Britain (Marxist- Leninist) sends its warmest fraternal greetings to the Party of Labour of Albania in celebration or 26 years of socialist advance.
We hail the steadfast and determined struggle of the Albanian Party under the brilliant leadership of Comrade Enver Hoxha which has kept the banner or socialism flying high despite every kind or provocation by imperialism and Soviet revisionism. Surrounded by US and Russian imperialist bases, threatened by nuclear missiles, the people and Party have refused to be intimidated, refused to compromise, refused to deviate from the hard revolutionary road.
Today on the eve of the 26th anniversary of the founding of the socialist state the Albanian workers and peasants, under the banner of Marxism-Leninism, have scored tremendous victories in industry and agriculture.
Not material incentives but socialist emulation, not dependence on experts but the initiative and self-reliance or thousands or workers have led to the transformation of a backward, semi-colonial economy into a modern balanced socialist economy. All branches or industry and agriculture are booming and targets of the 4th Plan have already been fulfilled and over-fulfilled.
Most important or all have been the tremendous strides taken in the formation of the new socialist man and woman. We who live in the midst of capitalism’s decadence salute the creation of a new society and a new morality not based on the exploitation of workers but on their liberation. Every socialist victory in Albania encourages us as we start on the long and arduous road to smash British imperialism.
Long live the People’s Republic or Albania!
Long live the revolutionary friendship of the Albanian and British working class!
January 1970 CPB (ML) Delegation Report of visit to Albania https://www.marxists.org/history/erol/uk.secondwave/cpb-albania.pdf
|The Worker, mid-June 1972||WORKERS’CONGRESS|
The Worker November 1971 CPB (ML) DELEGATION TO ALBANIA
The Worker, in what was to become an annual feature, carried a report that:
At the Invitation of the Albanian Party of Labour Reg Birch, Chairman of the Communist Party of Britain (Marxist-Leninist) and another member of the Central Committee have gone lo Tirana to take part in the celebration of the Party of Labour’s 30th Anniversary and the convening of the Sixth Party Congress. They take with them the comradely greetings of the CPB (ML) and the fraternal good wishes of British workers.
See: 6TH CONGRESS OF THE PARTY LABOUR OF ALBANIA https://www.marxists.org/history/erol/periodicals/worker-uk/12-71.pdf
The Worker No.21 November 1st 1973 A VISIT TO ALBANIA
Bellman Books, the public face of the CPB (ML) , organisational hub and meeting venue, provided an important outlet for English-language material from Albania.
The bookshop were subscription agents for Albanian English-Language magazine e.g. New Albania (‘beautifully illustrated bi-monthly magazine of socialist developments In Albania), and sold publications not stocked in mainstream book sellers
e.g. “ HISTORY OF THE PARTY OF LABOUR OF Albania . One volume edition in hard covers obtained nowhere else 70P (postage extra)”, and political propaganda such as the “Report on the Activity of the Central Committee of the Party of Labour of Albania, submitted to the Vlth Congress by Enver Hoxha”, along with material on the culture and social developments in the small Balkan nation.
Radio Tirana’s English language broadcasts were advertised in The Worker as a…..RADIO STATION FOR WORKERS IN BRITAIN The Worker SEPTEMBER 1969
In March 1969, the newspaper of the CPB ML carried this article announcing the NEW ALBANIA SOCIETY, the officially recognised friendship and solidarity organisation in Britain, and advertised two meetings with talks from “recent visitors” to Albania. That contact with the country had a rarity as the country was regarded as one of the most “backward” under-developed countries of Europe, diplomatically isolated and closed off, inaccessible, a secretive, culturally different society regard like North Korea is presented in the popular media today.
‘The Worker’ April 1969 reported the first public meeting of the New Albanian Society on March 15 1969. Dorothy Birch, a teacher who visited Albania in the summer of 1968, “gave an interesting account of the country and its socialist development” accompanied by “interesting slides of many aspects of the country.” Chairman of the society was Professor Cyril Offord, F.R.S. (London University), its secretary Joanna Seymour of Westbourne Grove, London W 11.
Programmes of events were drawn up: typically as on June 13 1969: an illustrated talk on Albanian folk music at 155 Fortess Road. The British premiere of the film, ‘Triumph over Death’ was shown at Conway Hall on Friday October 31st 1969. The Society was to be a regular feature of Party life until the late 1970s. Regular meetings and talks at Bellman Bookshop, showing films under the auspices of the friendship organisation, New Albania Society e.g. JAN. 21st 1972 MEETING ON Albania AND Film SHOW
FIRST SHOWING IN BRITAIN
The premiere of the Albanian feature film: “TRIUMPH OVER DEATH”
Based on a true incident in the heroic liberation struggle of the Albanian people against Fascism.
Conway Hall, Rod Lion Square. WC1.
7.00 p.m; Friday October, 31st. 1969
A visitor to the country and leading CPB (ML) member, William Ash published Pickaxe and Rifle: The Story of the Albanian People in 1974.
Reports on the economic and social developments in Albania accentuated the positive and masked the low base from which the country was developing. The reportage was strong on solidarity and friendship, less so as an accurate portrayal of the country’s state e.g. ALBANIA: where people’s needs have priority (The Worker No.2 January 25th 1973) so when they state that rent for homes is only 3 per cent of an average worker’s wage, there are no statistical facts to indicate what level that income is, and how it might compare to other European countries.
One of the features of Albania today that never received a mention: the ubiquitous concrete mushrooms that populate modern Albania, built as part of a defensive strategy that saw huge investment in construction to defend the country against invasion. The UK legacy of WW2 pillboxes pales into insignificance.
The extent to which the political promotion of Albania distorted the actual reality of a developing nation was most evident in the 1976 pamphlet published by the CPB (ML) dominated New Albania Society entitled, Albania: The Most Successful Country in Europe .
The Worker September 1970 Albanian Handicrafts on Display
There will be an Albanian stand, displaying examples of their handicrafts, at the 18th International Handicraft Exhibition which opens on August 28th and continues till September 12th. These products of Peoples’ Albania which all the friends of Albania will want to see will be shown on stand 030.
Exhibition Hall Olympia
FILMS – PHOTOGRAPHS – MUSIC From PEOPLES ALBANIA
The only Socialist country in Europe, which has just celebrated 25 years of tremendous achievements in industry, agriculture, the arts and, most important of all, social relations in a true workers’ democracy.
Albania is our window onto the exciting world of socialism, where workers under the leadership of the Party of Labour, inspired by the great Marxist-Leninist, Enver Hoxha, are blazing the trail British workers will want to take.
From the 14th September till the first week in October
Every evening from 6 p.m., Saturdays and Sundays from 10 a.m.
Feature Film – “Triumph Over Death”
Tues. 15th Sept., Fri. 25th Sept., 7.30 p.m. 3/6.
I 55 Fortess Road, Tufnell Park Tube Station, London NW5.
Organised by the Bellman Bookshop.
The Worker, July 1970 ALBANIA ABOLISHES INCOME TAX
From November 8th this year the Peoples Republic of Albania has decided to abolish the system of taxation, including insurance.
There will be no deductions from any workers’ pay packet!
Any British wage or salary earner who looks angrily at the difference between the figure at the beginning of his pay slip and the much smaller figure at the end, will be envious.
The Albanians are able to do this because of the steady increase in the national income, and the success of the workers in surpassing the targets of the fourth 5 year plan. This is an example of socialist planning in a country led by a Marxist Leninist party.
The Worker May 1971
The Worker, Nov 16th. 1972 (No17) ONE BIG CONSTRUCTION SITE
(Written by a young worker who spent his holiday in the People’s Republic of Albania)
To know about a socialist country from books and pictures is one thing, but actually to see socialism first hand is quite another experience.
Especially when that country, twenty–eight years ago, was the most backward in Europe, ruined economically by the war and retarded by age-old religious and superstitious beliefs .Today however, this tiny country, The People’s Republic of Albania, is forging ahead in the construction of socialism and rapidly rising the welfare of its people.
The tone of the country is set when you reach the border, having left Yugoslavia; the cultivated trees, the flower beds, and the new customs house being built. For it is the amount of building being done that strikes the visitor most. Factories, irrigation, canals, houses, railways and, something most important for the future of Albanian industry, a huge metallurgical works. These are some of the projects well under way. In 1969 the volume of construction work had increased seventy-nine times over that of 1938.
Agriculture is making speedy Progress also, with many new crops being cultivated. Even in the rugged mountains, areas are being cleared and olive and fruit trees planted. A most impressive sight is the formerly barren hillsides now terraced and ready for planting.
But to admire only the economic and technological progress is to see only half of the Albanian picture. With a socialist base, they have created a platform from which it is possible to fight against many of the ills that beset capitalist society, such as pollution, delinquency, alcohol and drug addiction, and crime. (Many crimes, from petty theft to murder, are virtually unknown,)
Albania is above all a healthy country, a country of the future, and most important of all a country for the workers. There are no wealthy business men living in big villas, rich property speculators or corrupt bureaucrats tying the system up in knots with red tape. With a Marxist-Leninist party as its vanguard, the working class is taking the lead and forging for itself a new type of society.
ALBANIA’S NATIONAL DAY Meeting Friday November 24th 1972
7.30 pm Central Co1lege Theatre, 16,Gordon St . W.C.1 off Euston Square.
The shift in international allegiance of Britain’s most prominent Maoists, the CPB (ML), occurred over a very short period of time. In 1976, the pending changes were signalled in Birch’s speech to the 7th Congress of the Party of Albania, he concluded,
“The test of a revolutionary working class in Europe today is in its understanding of the greatness and historic contribution to Marxism‐Leninism to revolution and socialism of the Albanian people. Just as in October 1917 and for all the years of the Bolshevik Revolution, the test of class understanding of Marxism was the attitude to the Bolshevik Revolution now the test is the attitude to Albania. Albania is not alone, nor are the workers of Europe ever without a champion and friend while there is Albania.”
That Reg Birch had singled out the attitude towards Albania as the litmus test of marxist understanding was a clear sign of agreement with the PLA analysis of the international situation. The Worker of November 29th 1976 devoted half of its space to coverage of the PLA Congress, reproducing excerpts from Enver Hoxha’s criticism of the concept of’ three worlds’ . In an allusion to the foreign policy analysis of China, the 1976 Congress document says: “For our party there is but one world. The divisive force is class. The division in Britain: working class – capitalist class, the expropriated and the expropriator, the exploited and the exploiter.” This attacked the three‐world line before it was profitable or popular to do so. That support was made even more explicit with the front page Worker article. “A Single World Divided By Class” with its opening line:
All over the world the two class forces, the capitalist class and the working class, confront each other with their radically different: ways of life and thought: profits, exploitation and war on the one hand, production geared to people’s needs, freedom and peace on the other.
The CPB (ML) was not simply tailing behind the Albanian position, the 1976 Congress of the organisation had contained criticism that matched that of the Albanian party, and that agreement cemented the CPB (ML) alignment to Albania in her strained relations with China. The ’76 Congress document observed:
“The division of the world into 1, 2, 3 is artificial and mechanistic, and there are special dangers inherent within the so‐called developing countries and within the liberation struggles today; no true liberation can be achieved within this one world without the strongest development of marxist forces.”
Initial solidarity with Albania in its criticism of the “Three Worlds Theory” led to a re-assessment of China’s general political orientation, with The Worker describing “China’s Capitalist Chaos” by February 1979.
Throughout 1978, The CPB (ML) organised public meetings in support of Albania. At a meeting in Conway Hall (London) in October, Enver Hoxha was praised for leading the attack “against the anti‐communist theory of three worlds.”
The meeting, “Albania – beacon of Marxism‐Leninism”, promoted the view that, “the Albanians had been able to foresee, expose and survive the treachery of former allies in the struggle for socialism – first of all Yugoslavia at the end of the war, then Russia in the 1960s and now China.”
The CPB (ML) stated at ‘Congress 1979’ had argued
“The line of ‘three worlds’ which never warranted the title of a theory, stands naked for what always was, a weak apology for China’s bid to attain the status of a world imperialist power.”….”Our Party was the first in the world to oppose it.”
However the relationship with Tirana waned. Reg Birch stated explicitly the deeply held belief within the CPB (ML) leadership in his 1978 May Day address at Conway Hall, London:
“You will not solve the problems of Britain by theories extracted from Peking or anywhere else. They will be solved solely by the will, the power of the British working class, its clarity and the guidance it receives from this party.”
The pride in, what Reg always referred to as the oldest working class in the world, degenerated into a very chauvinist stance that was impervious to learning from other organisation.
Throughout 1979 another shift had taken place in the perception of the party. The identification with , and its relationship with Albania cooled as there were noticeably less frequent reports about Albania in contrast to 1978 and there was no special reference to Albania in that year’s May Day edition of The Worker. The principal reason, expressed in fellow Party member, Will Podmore’s sympathetic biography of Reg Birch, was the conflicting attitude to organising in the working class in Britain.
Podmore notes that the 1979 Congress document “depicted the development in Britain of the two contending classes and the way that the working class had developed trade unions in order to survive. It appraised the organisational strengths and political weaknesses of our trade unions. It also upheld the class’s right, and duty, to work in our trade unions, and opposed suggestions from, sadly, the Party of Labor of Albania, that workers should walk away from their own organisations and form Red unions.”
Even though Reg Birch retired from the General Council of the TUC that year, neither him nor the CPB (ML) were going to idly accept such “slanders” directed against British trade unionists. The dominant line that had informed the CPB (ML)’s international allegiance reasserted itself:
“We can’t turn to a united international communist movement for aid, which is no great handicap really. We have to rely on our own resources in any case.”
The CPB (ML) reaffirmed its self‐reliance and its sturdy independence baulked at being little more than a political section of the Albanian friendship society; there were others who did accept the guidance from Tirana.
The CPB ML’s initial pro‐Albanian turn was echoed by the Communist Party of England (Marxist‐Leninist), once the most zealous proponents of “Mao Tse‐Tung Thought”, the organisation sought to prove it was critical of Maoism and the most vociferous opponent of Chinese “social imperialism”. Praise was now heaped upon Enver Hoxha and the Party of Labour of Albania, as “the foremost Party in the International Marxist‐ Leninist Communist Movement.” It joined in the condemnation of the “anti‐Marxist” Mao in support of the Albanian positions. The adoption of Tirana’s perspective led the Internationalists in Canada, Ireland and Britain to conclude that:
Mao Tsetung, whilst being a revolutionary democrat who led the Chinese people in tremendous advances in their struggle against imperialism and feudalism, was never a Marxist‐Leninist…”Mao Tsetung Thought” was a profoundly anti‐Marxist and revisionist trend” which denied the hegemonic; role of the proletariat in the revolutionary struggle, which substituted eclectics for dialectics, which promoted conciliation of the proletariat with the bourgeoisie and denied the basic character of our epoch.
The CPE (ML) re-launched as the Revolutionary Communist Party of Britain (Marxist-Leninist) in 1979, relationship with the Party of Labor of Albania followed in the wake of the conversion of Hardial Bains, leader of the CPC (ML). The cooperation and unity of the two parties was strengthened with the visit in May 1980, a delegation of the RCPB (ML) at the invitation of the Party of Labor of Albania.
The relevant adjustments had been made: the previous April, The Marxist‐Leninist Journal carried an issue length article, ‘Mao Zedong Thought: a profoundly anti‐Marxist theory’.
A month earlier, the RCPB (ML) had taken part in the Internationalist Rally held in Montreal on March 30th which celebrated the Tenth Anniversary of the founding of the Communist Party of Canada (Marxist Leninist). May 1981 saw another delegation visit Albania; the previous month, on April 26th 1981 saw the founding of the Trade Union Revolutionary Opposition. The RCPB (ML) follow the “Albanian line” and set up organisations (consisting of a few party members) that purported to be revolutionary trade union opposition, whereas Reg and the Party he founded and shaped “held to the line of working in the trade unions, despite pressure from the Albanian leadership.”
Even though the political recognition went to the Revolutionary Communist Party of Britain (Marxist-Leninist) when it denounced its Maoist past and embraced Albanian criticism of Mao and China as its own, it was the Bland-led organisation that retained the friendship franchise.
“After the open break of the PLA with China, the Communist League approached the CPB (ML) suggesting discussions aimed at a unitary party as the CPB (ML) had denounced China and aligned themselves with Albania. In this letter to Reg Birch & the CC, the offer was made to dissolve the Communist League & enter the CPBML as individuals if they wanted to ensure there was ‘no factionalism’. The CPB (ML) did arrange meetings for a period to ‘assess ‘but after a very brief period denied admission. No reason was offered.”
Again, when the RCPB (ML) supported Albania in the late 1970s, it replaced the CPBML as Tirana’s recognised party:
“The Communist League also approached the RCPB (ML) but consistent with the general attitude of the Bains organisations ‐ an olympian indifference and rude silence greeted the approach. They did however then do something remarkable. They approached the Albanian Society and tried to ‘take it over”. This was unsuccessful as the open and non‐sectarian approach of the Albanian Society had been its feature and strength. The membership enjoyed the poetry and the discussion on art, and resisted the attempts to label these as ‘distracting bourgeois diversions’.”
Archive pdf copies of The Worker , the newspaper of the Communist Party of Britain (M-L), can be found at https://www.marxists.org/history/erol/periodicals/worker-uk/index.html
Part One: the Albanian Society of Britain
Little is known of the Albania Society set up by the Communist Party of Great Britain in the1940’s. It ceased to be active once the Albanians began to criticise Soviet revisionism. That is an area of unexplored archives. From the memoirs of one prominent activist, Bill Bland had been consistent in the defence of the People’s Socialist Republic of Albania over more than three decades and the building of friendship, we can sketch out later friendship and solidarity with that beacon of socialism.*
Bill Bland (1916-2001), then a Communist Party member, played a key role in re-establishing the Albanian Society of Britain which had the aim of disseminating information about the history, culture, language of that country in Britain. In 1957 he managed to get hold of the old secretary who supplied a list of members, there were only two members left in it one of whom was Ivor Kenna, another character from the UK’s anti-revisionist fringe. Three years later he become secretary of the society, a post which he held almost continuously for 30 years until July 1990 when he resigned because of the restoration of capitalism in Albania. This society which gradually prospered over the years and grew to several hundred members, published a journal, ‘Albanian Life’. Bland edited the Society’s quarterly journal from his home in Ilford, Essex.
Albanian Life, #32 (1985, #2), 52 pages. Memorial issue following the death of Enver Hoxha.
When the Albanian party had come out fairly early against Soviet revisionism, Bland recalls that “I wrote to them congratulating the Party on the correction of its line on Soviet revisionism, and it’s from there the Central Committee invited me to visit Albania for the first time, in 1960.” On his first of many visits, Bland did the filming for the film ‘The Land of Eagles’ shown at the Edinburgh Film Festival.
Bill learnt the Albanian language which facilitated the translation of varying kinds of literary work which would otherwise have been unknown to the English reading world
“When I first became the secretary of the Albania Society back in the early sixties. My knowledge of languages is basically a visual one. I can translate the written stuff but if someone speaks to me I can’t understand what they are saying.”
He spoke and wrote in defence of the developments in that Balkan nation out of an ideological alignment to the Marxist-Leninist regime. Bland was, in addition, instrumental in the foundation of the MLOB which in 1975 was renamed the Communist League. An example of his political defense can be found here two articles by Bill Bland
Among the work Bill Bland wrote were an introduction to the country, Albania: World Bibliographical Series, Oxford 1988 and co-authored the self-published exploration, A Tangled Web: A History of Anglo-American Relations with Albania 1912-1955, Ilford 1986
Bill recalls the turmoil of the mid 1960s when he was in the leadership of the Marxist Leninist Organisation of Britain published a report which was anti-Mao Tse Tung.
“all the Maoists in the [Albania] Society who had previously been active and supportive began to demand that Bland go on the grounds that my organisation, to which I belonged, had published a report which was anti-Mao Tse Tung and therefore anti-Albanian, and therefore I shouldn’t any longer be allowed to be secretary of the Albanian Society. Instead they organised a faction within the society to get rid of Bland, and at the next AGM they organised a miniature cultural revolution in the society.
The chairman at that time was a Maoist called Berger, she wrote articles on wine, her husband was a leading member of the friendship society with China. They organised this sort of cultural revolution at the AGM whereby a lot of people who had never been members of the society before appeared and demanded the right to vote, and Berger as chairman ruled that they had the right to vote because we were a democratic society and therefore anyone who walked in off the street to vote should be allowed to vote. This was the masses speaking you see. Unfortunately they hadn’t got quite enough people to outvote the other members, and our members didn’t agree with this particular line that it was reasonable grounds for sacking me, and so they lost the vote and I got re-elected as secretary and the Maoists walked out.
They then formed another New Albanian Society which rapidly split into four or five other groups all of which rapidly disappeared”
In 1968 the Albanians recognised the Communist Party of Britain (Marxist-Leninist) run by Reg Birch, and the associated New Albania Society. The policy of the Party of Labour of Albania was for sole recognition so relations with the Bland-led Albanian Society were ended by the Albanians. “We carried on exactly as we had done, sending our literature to them regularly over the next six or seven years, until 1978, the Albanian Party changed its line and came out attacking Mao Tse Tung as being revisionist”
“Albania is a socialist country, we accept that, we don’t agree with their line on this particular point, but none the less we stand for solidarity and support for the Albanian Party of Labour and the Albanian regime, therefore we would continue to support Albania, whatever their attitude to us might be.”
Shortly after publishing the pamphlet Albania: The Most Successful Country in Europe New Albania Society (Dec. 1976), Birch broke off relations with Albania, dissolved the New Albania Society without even consulting its membership. “There were just notices in the post saying ‘as from today the society is dissolved’, full stop.”
Contact was re-established after ten years with the Albanians through the expert on folk music, Bert Loyd who made regular trips to Albania to record folk music, not in his capacity as president of the Albania Society but in a personal capacity. He raised the point that “it was rather ridiculous to have no Albania friendship society because there was no one except for ourselves”
Bland was invited to Paris to speak to the ambassador there, which led eventually to the invitation for a delegation from the Society to go to Albania. There was no mention of what had happened over the previous ten years, no self-criticism although as Bland explained, this was a “matter for the Albanians and not for us really” .
The Bland-led organisation retained the friendship franchise even though the political recognition went to the Communist Party of England (Marxist-Leninist) transformed into the Revolutionary Communist Party of Britain (Marxist-Leninist) when it denounced its Maoist past and embraced Albanian criticism of Mao and China as its own in the late 1970s .
* Quotes taken from an interview by JP and the obituary that appeared in William B. Bland – Obituary – Revolutionary Democracy and the 1976 MEMORANDUM of the Communist League – Following the Expulsion of Mike Baker & the split in the then Marxist-Leninist Organisation Britain.
Contemporary accounts are the first partial draft but often not the most accurate account of history, here, written by participants, structured by a historian, the compilation of quotes provides a narrative and the conveys the flavour of the Easter Rising. From the witnesses’ recollections of their schooling and other childhood influences to their accounts of what happened at Easter 1916, Rebels tells of this seismic and much-debated insurrection. The testimonies gathered from participants by the Irish Bureau of Military History in 1947 provides a real feel for the ordinary person in history, and captures the detail often absence in the general histories. To recall just two incidents: Seamus Pounch stationed at the Jacob’s biscuit factory, in the first few quiet days before the arrival of British army reinforcements in Dublin, said:
“During a lull in the fight in Jacob’s we held a miniature ceilidh – Volunteers and Fianna, Cumann na mBan, Clan na Gael Girl Scouts… a real welcome break in the serious business we had in hand.”
A testimony to the rank-and-file spirit, and indicative of the conglomeration of forces – not solely a Sinn Fein rebellion – involved in the struggle for Irish national freedom. Not quite a carnival but a celebration, not the mystic “blood sacrifice” so often stressed, but a survivor’s account and insight in an incident that contributes to the human story and commitments that makes history. In another contribution from Liam Tannam, based at the GPO, not a story about the great James Connolly of the Irish Citizen Army, but a nameless Finn. He, and a Swede appeared at the GPO to join the fight.
“The Finn[ish] volunteer was no catholic. He had no English but before he left he was saying the rosary in Irish.”
This provoked a smile and thoughts of Lenin talking in defence of 1916 with references to no pure rebellions, and Mao’s reference to revolution not being a dinner party. The range of forces that were involved in the action, and those who opposed it from within, is clear in the contributions in the book quoting Bulmer Hobson, Irish Republican Brotherhood and general secretary of the Irish Volunteers in Dublin. Among “the rebels” the warmth and affection that Tom Clark, one of the signatories to the Proclamation of the Irish Republic, engendered in many activists had not previously registered with my own preference for James Connolly.
We know the insurrection was not popularly acclaimed, jeered and booed by the Dublin mob at the time. The rebels were branded as criminals, traitors, fanatics, or, at best, dangerously misguided fools in the first drafts of history Dublin 1916. However, the suppression of the rebellion and executions, military occupation with twenty thousand troops in the Dublin city centre alone and nightly curfews that followed meant that the Rising’s legacy would transform Ireland forever. It was the opening shots of the protracted modern Irish revolutionary struggle .
In his more conventional historical narrative, the Rising [Oxford University Press 2010] McGarry points out that within the nationalist tradition, republicanism was moved central stage, and many revolutionary-minded activists could raise “the accusation that they had failed to live up to the ideals of the Proclamation “ so central had those events of Easter 1916 become to the identity and legitimacy of the extensive rebel tradition in Ireland. In their own words are the men and women who played a part in that writing of history.
In January 1979 Avakian was amongst 75 arrested at a demonstration against (old style: Teng Hsiao-Ping) Deng Xiaoping’s visit with Jimmy Carter at the White House and charged with assaulting a police officer. In the party’s narrative this demonstration of 500 people, called by the Revolutionary Communist Party, came at a crucial time when the U.S. ruling class was arrogantly and smugly parading Deng Xiaoping around as living proof that the Chinese revolution, in particular, and revolution in general was dead and a useless pursuit.
Upholding the revolutionary line of Mao Zedong, chanting “Mao Tsetung Did Not Fail – Revolution Will Prevail” the Washington demonstration was classed as an extremely significant and powerful event of worldwide and historic importance; “At a crucial juncture it not only exposed Teng Hsiao-ping as a revisionist-traitor and his enlistment of China on the side of the U.S. war bloc, the demonstration declared that revolution was very much alive and determined to overcome the reversal in China and everything else in its path.
RCP literature presented Avakian as the most dangerous man in America, that he was the best leader the U.S. working class has ever had, that the U.S. government intended to “railroad” Avakian and the other “Mao Tse-tung Defendants because the RCP was seen by the government as “the most dangerous revolutionary organization in this country.”
The RCP and Bob did not always get comradely support from others from the new Communism Movement. The Communist Party, USA (Marxist-Leninist) article, dismissingly headlined, “Bob Avakian, The Jerk is Loose” Bolshevik Revolution, No. 1, December 1979.
While the RCP’s “infantile leftism” was condemned in a polemical piece headlined,
A Reply to the RCP: “Mao Defenders” Sow Ideological Confusion and Provoke Reaction.
“The RCP’s arrogant, self-inflated view of itself as the maker of revolution contradicts reality as well as the Marxist-Leninist understanding of who it is that really makes revolution. Unite! Vol. 5, No. 17, October 1, 1979.
The relentless activism of the organization intensified in the year following the arrests: RCP cadre and supporters attacked the Chinese Embassy in Washington, disrupted a press conference with Deng Xiaoping and marched through the streets of Washington, San Francisco and Seattle in red blazers and berets waving the “little red book” and posters of Mao Tsetung and the Gang of Four. From coast to coast, in the build up to nationwide MayDay disruptions, the RCP’s strived for its name to be become synonymous with that of Mao Tsetung. In its campaign, “A Fitting Welcome for Teng”, its main slogan was “Uphold Mao and the Gang of Four”. Those arrested in the course of these demonstrations are known as the “Mao Defendants.”
Revolutionary Worker No.88 January 16th 1981
“We do not want to be convicted! That would be a crippling blow against our Party and against building a revolutionary movement in this country.”
The defense brought out the legal question of prosecutorial vindictiveness—a term referring to any action of a prosecutor in response to the assertion of a legal right by a defendant which can appear to be a reprisal against the defendant for asserting that right. The prosecution had originally indicted the Mao Defendants in two separate groups of nine and eight, with one group charged with eleven felonies and another with fifteen (this itself was an escalation from the original charges of one misdemeanor and one felony).
When the defendants asked for a joint trial and won—a move that clearly signaled the intent of the Party and the defendants to treat this as the political trial it was and to take every opportunity to expose the politics behind it—the prosecution responded by upping the charges against all 17 to 25 felonies, one misdemeanor and a possible 241 years of jail time.
The RCP newspaper, the Revolutionary Worker covered the speech by Bob Avakian, Chairman of the Revolutionary Communist Party, USA at the Free Bob Avakian and the Mao Tsetung Defendants rally held in Washington, D.C., on November 18. 1979. It was also published as a separate pamphlet, Bob Avakian Speaks On The Mao Tsetung Defendants Railroad And The Historic Battle Ahead. Bob said,
They saw a disciplined, militant, powerful march of 500 people going down the street in unison chanting and delivering a clear political message, and they saw twice that number of pigs surrounding the march. And all of them to a man and woman’ said, “Goddamm, something motherfucking heavy must be going on here. I’d better check it out!” [Revolutionary Worker No.57 May 30th 1980]
Only a few days before the rally the case against the <Mao Tsetung Defendants> was dismissed in a lower court and immediately appealed to a higher one. This was a real victory- the Government had been forced to back off.
The party-initiated, Committee to Free the Mao Tsetung Defendants described the trumped up charges totalling up to a possible 241 years of jail time, and the government using legal means (with pending hearings in federal appeals court) against the Chairman and the 16 other Mao Defendants as part of a continuing plot and manoeuvre as the ruling class decides its next move.
Shortly after the dismissal, the prosecution appealed. And while the brief sat in the higher court, the ruling class went about the business of laying the basis to either get the Chairman in some other way or to bring back this particular attack on a more favorable basis for them. This began shortly later with a Secret Service investigation of Comrade AvaWan based on an L.A. Times article with a so-called quote proven—even later admitted—to have been false, concerning a. threat against Carter, continued through the 800 arrests of Party members and supporters in the course of building for revolutionary May Day 1980 and the murder of Damian Garcia just a week before it; and recently intensified both with a concentrated media campaign to brand the RCP as terrorists and with the arrest of 2 revolutionaries in Atlanta on the charge of advocating the overthrow of the government—carrying a 20-year jail term—with the main piece of evidence a poster publicizing the Revolutionary Worker with a quote from Comrade Avakian on it.
Revolutionary Worker No.77 October 24 1980
Damián García, who was closely associated with the RCP and who had raised a red flag on top of the Alamo a few weeks earlier as part of building for RCP-sponsored demonstrations on May Day 1980, was murdered in Los Angeles. Avakian told the Washington rally of the attacks that the party had withstood,
And even since the Greensboro incident, these attacks have continued to intensify, with firebombs being thrown into our offices, with bullets being shot into our offices, with direct threats being made to attack and destroy our Party headquarters in various parts of the country. And direct attacks have, for example, been made on one of the other Mao Tsetung Defendants not far from Greensboro in Durham, North Carolina.
Bob Avakian Speaks On The Mao Tsetung Defendants Railroad And The Historic Battle Ahead 1981
According to Avakian’s memoirs, within this same period there were growing reports of death threats against him from various quarters.
“We know that they’re still carrying out COINTELPRO stuff”
The party was coming under intense scrutiny including a Secret Service “Investigation” of Bob Avakian.
Five hundred thirty-four pages of Secret Service documents concerning Bob Avakian and the RCP which were recently released through the Freedom of Information Act, makes clearer the top level government conspiracy to crush this revolutionary Party and wipe out its leadership.
Revolutionary Worker No. 46 March 21,1980
The majority of the materials released deal with the RCP and its activities in only the last two years, in particular since the January 29th demonstration in Washington, D.C. against Deng Xiaoping. This was said to be
merely the obvious tip of a giant, submerged iceberg of political surveillance, harassment and repression being carried out against the Revolutionary Communist Party, with special focus on its Chairman, Bob Avakian, in a coordinated nationwide massive effort by the U.S. Secret Service.
What did the material reveal? In part: clear indications of both informants and actual government agents infiltrating RCP activity and prosecution being actively considered against the RCP and its members on the charge of advocating the violent overthrow of the government. While fighting these charges, Avakian went on a national speaking tour in 1979 and while in Los Angeles, gave an interview to an L.A. Times reporter. In her article, the reporter attributed statements to Avakian that were distortions, which the Secret Service then used as a pretext for an investigation, the Secret Service’s ongoing attempt to frame Bob Avakian on the charge that he allegedly “threatened the life of the president.” After being threatened with a lawsuit, the L.A. Times printed a partial retraction. The Secret Service investigation was challenged in court, and nothing ever came of this investigation
“And I want to emphasize-politically-we’re going to be creating political turmoil and creating public opinion around this whole case and all the issues. Because this touches on all the fundamental issues of society and the world. It touches on the developments towards world war. It touches on the nature of the dictatorship in this country. It touches on the question of revolution. Many of the fundamental questions, political questions, of society and world affairs are going to be brought out in this trial.”
BA Interview with the Washington Post given in October 1979.
However, at the time of state attention and repression, after receiving an arrest warrant, Avakian “jumped bail” and fled to France. For years the only image was a picture of a bearded Avakian, wearing a flat cap, gazing solemnly at the camera, describing : “[t]he author in exile, in front of the Wall of Communards in Paris, 1981.”
And so he remains in exile, a man persecuted in his own land.
Except he wasn’t. All charges against Bob Avakian were dropped in 1982, as he admits in his book, From Ike to Mao and Beyond. My Journey from Mainstream America to Revolutionary Communist, a memoir by Bob Avakian .
In 1982, after a three-year court battle, 17 members, the “Mao Tse Tung defendants”, were acquitted of felony charges for allegedly violent activity at a demonstration in Washington, D.C.
But the chairman was still on the run, even if nobody is chasing him in self-imposed exile in France for nearly 40 years until his return to the US where “Chairman Bob” is revered by his small party in terms suggestive that he is the architect of a New World. They have established the Bob Avakian Institute to promote his words and analysis. The hyperbolic presentation of Avakian [e,g, http://revcom.us/a/423/six-resolutions-of-the-Central-Committee-of-the-RCP-USA-en.html ] maintains that there is an ongoing and ever present danger to the person of Chairman Bob and the organization he leads. The propaganda campaigns to ‘defend BA’ – as Avakian is affectionately referred too – has included a relentless poster and publicity campaign and media stunts such as back in 2007 when a group of people including well known personalities like Chuck D, Cindy Sheehan, Cornel West and others had signed an ad in the New York Review of Books urging everyone to “engage” with the thoughts of Bob Avakian, and calling for the government not to suppress his freedom of speech across a full page of The New York Review of Books: an advertisement featuring the boldface words, “Dangerous times demand courageous voices. Bob Avakian is such a voice.”
All this activism contrasts with where the RCP came from: during the New Communist Movement in the US they were the most significant movement outside of the Black Panthers when in the 1970s the RU/RCP-USA had a significant presence that was embedded in the working class throughout all of the US. The government considered them a threat from their foundation; the FBI eventually decided that they were the number one threat, worse than the Weather Underground: the declassified documents that illustrate how the FBI infiltrated and helped wreck the RCP-USA were explored in the book Heavy Radicals. Of course it is also worth pointing out that the RCP-USA’s degeneration into the cult of Avakian that it is today was not just the responsibility of counter-insurgency but, as Heavy Radicals makes this point, also of unhealthy internal practices. Avakian was one of four leaders of the original RU/RCP-USA and it is not until the final split, around the post-Mao leadership in China, that he ended up being the sole authority. It degenerated into a political sect that, based on the memory of its once importance, still imagines it represents communism itself. And because of its American exceptionalism imagines it is imposing Bob’s ideas (eg, the “new synthesis“) upon the entire international communist movement.
“Revolutionary Writings” by Seamus Costello, the INLA Chief of Staff assassinated October 1977 by the Official IRA, is one of the latest volume in the “Colorful Classics” Collection published under the stewardship of Chris Kistler. He issued a call in August 2016 For a New International MLM Media that resulted in the website Redspark.
It was argued that while all Maoists could not agree on the question on universality of PPW – protracted people’s war – there was a demarcation line, an agreement on the necessity of armed struggle. “The news and articles we would post would be those from MLM, MLMZT and ML movement waging or having the strategy to wage an armed struggle to grasp the power.”
Besides carrying reports and news of international struggles, it has built a good library of 970 online articles, documents or books and collection of films and documentaries from throughout the world.
While co-ordinating the operation of the website ( and editor of Nouvelle Turquie website) and other social media outlets like facebook, Kistler is acting as the public face for a major publishing project referred to initially as Redspark and now apparently called Foreign Language Press.
A former militant of the PCmF, he now resides and works in the Nederlands, and seems suitable qualified to be at the centre of a developing International MLM Media. Kistler works for National Democratic Front (NDF) chief political consultant Jose Maria “Joma” Sison as a translator and active within the International League of Peoples’ Struggle (ILPS). It was in this capacity, at the April 2018 meeting organised by the Seamus Costello Memorial Committee’s 1916 Commemoration in Bray, Christophe Kistler read a solidarity statement from the International League of Peoples Struggle written by Jose Maira Sison founding Chairperson of the Communist Party of the Philippines. There is no conflict in interests when Specific Characteristics of our People’s War by Jose Maria Sison was reprinted in May 2017 as part of the publishing project.
Costello, an Irish Republican Marxist Leninist, joins a pantheon of maoist revolutionaries and advocates of armed revolutionary action. The most readily available material by Costello has been in the pages of Starry Plough archives and scattered around the internet.
Many of the issued titles have been available on the internet but the book remains a powerful icon and portable study material. The range of material published after a year of publishing (or rather republishing) MLM books has seen 14 different titles printed with around 1400 books distributed (from more than 1600 book printed) in close to 20 different countries.
This printing project being non-profit, will always welcome donations. https://www.youcaring.com/worldrevolution-866714
Distribution has been via an informal contact network that maps out a particular correlation of global maoism. The collection “Colorful Classics” is distributed in the USA by Fourth Sword Publications, an initiative of Red Guards Austin.
Reflecting the political impulse behind the series, book launches with Kistler have the character of political public meetings as in London in October 2016, co-hosted by Revolutionary Praxis, when a talk about the situation of the most advanced revolutionary movements in the world and of the history of the MLM movement in Britain, was followed by a book launch of the 1st volume of the first edition of “Collected Works of Communist Party of Peru” (1968~1987) and new editions of three important documents : “Marxism-Leninism-Maoism Basic Course” (CPI maoist), “Philosophical Trends in Feminist Movement” (Anuradha Ghandy) and “Minimanual of Urban Guerrilla” (Carlos Marighella).
The following week in Germany there was a book launch organized by Jugendwiderstand & Redspark in Berlin-Kreuzberg, talking about the needs of a revolutionary press publishing in the 21st century.
Latest news from April 2018 is the announcement of a Spring Thunder Tour supporting people’s war in India during which three publications will be made available: the 5th printing of the popular study text, Marxism-Leninism-Maoism Basic Course by the Communist Party of India (Maoist), Urban Perspective (an explanation of the work in the urban areas of CPI (maoist) and Post-Modernism Today by Comrade Siraj. Facebook https://en-gb.facebook.com/redspark.nu/
If you cannot buy direct, the most readily available place to obtain copies may be at the forthcoming London Radical Bookfair on Saturday 2nd of June. Revolutionary Praxis will have a stall. The fair will be held for the third year running at Goldsmiths University, South East London. https://londonradicalbookfair.wordpress.com/
JOHN GOLLAN, John Mahon and Bill Alexander arrived in Peking on their way to Hanoi on June 9. That evening nine British comrades who live and work in Peking (with the approval of the E.C.) went to their hotel to discuss the Party’s policy on Vietnam. (The nine comrades were: Rose Smith, Michael Shapiro, Elsie Cholmely, David Crook, Isabel Crook, Patricia Davies, Joshua Horn, Miriam Horn, Margaret Turner.)
The custom had grown up over the years that whenever British Party leaders came to Peking they arranged to meet the comrades working there. Not this time. In fact as they stepped out of the lift and saw us their faces were a study of surprise and discomfort and one of them gasped: “Good god!” Gollan did not even invite us into his room but headed off down the corridor away from us. We followed him and ourselves went for extra chairs. The meeting that followed lasted only 25 minutes, after which Gollan summarily ended it. Report from British Comrades in Peking, Vanguard Vol.2 No.5 Aug/Sept 1965
This account, recounts the communist militants then tackle the CPGB’s stress on the war’s horrors and the campaign for a negotiated settlement rather than militant support for the “the victorious fight of the Vietnamese people”.
“From the outset Gollan showed contempt for our questions-which were such as any Party member is entitled to ask. He told Rose Smith-a foundation member of the Party- that he was not going to discuss her questions seriously because they were “hostile” and she had criticised him… In fact it was Gollan who was hostile and arrogant. He neither sought our opinions as comrades, nor deigned to put his own case. He acted as a boss with underlings. We knew he was tired from travelling, but it was obviously not just tiredness that led him to announce that he would give us only 20 minutes. And when faced with a very awkward question he stood up and replied: “I’m not going to allow you to rob me of my sleep.” Then he began to undress. It was nine o’clock.” https://www.marxists.org/history/erol/uk.secondwave/cpgb-peking.pdf
One of the comrades, Rose Smith deserves to be known as her life and struggles illustrates the interplay and importance of community, class and gender. In an article published during the Cultural Revolution, she observed,
“Born of the British working class, reared among miners and cotton textile workers, daily participating in the hardships and humiliations of their lives it was there that I had early learnt that the only way out for the working class is through proletarian revolution and the overthrow of capitalism.
In long-drawn out strikes, on picket lines, on hunger marches, and then fighting evictions I had seen the proletarian spirit of rebellion in action, daring to challenge capitalist authorities, openly defying the reactionary forces that stood in the way of progress. The struggle among the masses had been my life-blood.”
Peking Review No. 30 July 21, 1967
Israel Epstein recalls, in his memoirs “Rose Smith, an elderly but feisty journalist of pure working class origin and a founding member of the British Communist Party, worked in the official Xinhua (New China) News Agency, and for a time with us at China Reconstructs. In the arguments in the international movement she leaned towards China’s side. But rampant factionalism among Red Guards groups cut her to the heart. Whenever she could, she preached unity.
Enlisting Elsie (Israel’s wife), the two of them had once saved a man who was about to be kidnapped, “debated with”, and possibly beaten up by a rival group. Seeing him surrounded by assailants, the two tall women moved on either side of him, like protective walls, and marched to safety.”
My China Eye: Memoirs of a Jew and a Journalist .Long River Press 2005
Graham Stevenson’s biographical account notes that “In 1960, Rose joined the staff of the official Chinese news agency in Beijing, where she remained until her death at the age of 94 years on 23rd July 1985.”
Read more on the life of the CPGB’s National Women’s Officer, union organizer, prominent member of the National Minority Movement, leader of the Women’s Hunger March, and elected to the CPGB’s Central Committee, a journalist with the Daily Worker and in the Chinese propaganda media.
Rose Smith, is naturally the subject of an academic thesis by Gisela Chan Man Fong, (1998) The times and life of Rose Smith in Britain and China, 1891-1985: an interplay between community, class and gender. PhD thesis, Concordia University.
She is also the subject of a chapter in John McIlroy, Kevin Morgan and Alan Campbell (eds), Party People, Communist Lives: Explorations in Biography. Lawrence & Wishart 2001
And has an entry on Wikipedia, the free online encyclopedia.
Rosina Smith (10 May 1891 – 23 July 1985) was a British communist activist, educator and union organizer.
With 19 separate national sections providing information on and primary documents from anti-revisionist movements, organisations and parties, the Encyclopedia of Anti-Revisionism On-Line is the first web stop for any historical investigation of global maoism. EROL maintains this history that had faded into obscurity. In providing the source material from the movement it provide documents so that those studying them can draw their own conclusions on that period.
Other useful sites to explore include the MLM library provided by Redspark website that provides a developing collection of documents and author specific writings from the maoist perspective.
For many varied reasons (explored here) there was for self-identifying Maoists a distinct lack of an international experience similar to the structure and authority of the Comintern. Following the death of Mao Zedong however the identity of Maoism outside China splintered under ideological offensives launched from Albania and by organisations quickly critical of developments within China that principally grouped in RIM.
There were concerted efforts to unite global maoism into embryonic international associations like the (now defunct) Revolutionary Internationalist Movement and the broader International Coordination of Revolutionary Parties and Organizations (ICOR) both in its pro-Hoxha and maoist variants http://www.icor.info/about-icor .
There is an online posting of a collection of materials by and about the Revolutionary Internationalist Movement [RIM], including their official documents, statements by the Committee of RIM [CoRIM], and issues and articles from their unofficial and now defunct magazine A World to Win.
These sites are purposeful, in the words of a committed blogger:
“it is important to examine the strengths and limitations of revolutionary organizations that were once significant so as to avoid repeating past errors. Often we tend to repeat the past’s mistakes, even when we think we are forging a new path, and there is sometimes little to know historical memory over an experience that can and should teach us something about how to organize as communists now.”
Learning From Documents of Past Struggle (continued) May 31, 2013
Contemporary Maoist organisations across the globe engage in the slow process of rebuilding an internationalist constellation on a shared understanding. In the aftermath of the demise of RIM, there were interventions on the need for a regrouping of international co-thinkers. Here is a selection of documents on the debate in the international communist movement at that period that provides the broad outline of the arguments of the varying self-declared competing Maoist trends.
The interest in Maoism outside of China and beyond the Global South has also attracted an academic interest and growing body of literature. Some of the more accessible commentary on various aspects of global maoism include:
Alexander Cook, ed. (2014) Mao’s Little Red Book: A Global History Cambridge University Press
Global Maoism and Cultural Revolution in the Global Context. Comparative Literature Studies Vol. 52, No. 1, Special Issue: (2015) Penn State University Press
Cagdas Ungor REACHING THE DISTANT COMRADE: Chinese communist propaganda abroad (1949-1976). Binghamton University (State University of New York) 2009
Zachary A. Scarlett CHINA AFTER THE SINO-SOVIET SPLIT: Maoist Politics, narratives and the imagination of the world. Northeastern University (Boston, Massachusetts) March, 2013
Matt Galway BOUNDLESS REVOLUTION: Global Maoism and communist movements in South East Asia, 1949-1979. University of British Columbia (Vancouver) July 2017
Global Maoism and the Politics of Localization in Peru and Tanzania. Left History Vol 17, No 2 (2013)
Dr. Matthew Galway A SHINING BEACON: Global Maoism and Communist movements in PERU and CAMBODIA, 1965-1992
Dr Julia Lovell The Uses of Foreigners in Mao-Era China: ‘Techniques of Hospitality’ and International Image-Building in the People’s Republic, 1949-1976.” Transactions of the Royal Historical Society 25 (2015): 135-158. Downloaded from: http://eprints.bbk.ac.uk/13758/
Dr Julia Lovell. Global Maoism Podcasts / produced by Simon Brown, 29th March 2017
Dr Julia Lovell of Birckbeck, University of London, discusses the role and significance of Global Maoism in the development of the Cold War
Arif Dirlik (2014) Mao Zedong Thought and the Third World/Global South, Interventions, International Journal of Postcolonial Studies Vol 16 No. 2, 233-256. DOI: 10.1080/1369801X.2013.798124
Quinn Slobodian (2018) The meanings of Western Maoism in the global 1960s The Routledge Handbook of the Global Sixties Chapter 5
Dr Evan Smith (2018) Peking Review and global anti-imperialist networks in the 1960s.
Kevin Pinkoski Maoism in South America: Comparing Peru’s Sendero Luminoso with Mexico’s PRP and PPUA
Matthew Rothwell (2013) Transpacific Revolutionaries: The Chinese Revolution in Latin America. Routledge
Matthew Rothwell Secret Agent for International Maoism: José Venturelli, Chinese Informal Diplomacy and Latin American Maoism
|The Chinese Revolution and Latin America: The Impact of Global Communist Networks on Latin American Social Movements and Guerrilla Groups http://worldhistoryconnected.press.uillinois.edu/7.3/rothwell.html
Dr Alpa Shah • Judith Pettigrew Windows into a revolution: ethnographies of Maoism in South Asia. Dialect Anthropol (2009) 33:225–251. DOI 10.1007/s10624-009-9142-5
Nielsen, Ryan D., “Maoism in South Asia: A Comparative Perspective On Ideology, Practice, and Prospects for the 21st Century” (2012). Honors Projects. Paper 12. http://digitalcommons.iwu.edu/intstu_honproj/12
Ahmed, Ishtiaq. (2010) “The Rise and Fall of the Left and the Maoist Movements in Pakistan.” India Quarterly: A Journal of International Affairs 66.3: 251-265.
Hirslund, D. V. (2017). Urbanising Maoism: Reconceptualising the transformation of revolutionary movements. Paper at SASNET Seminar, University of Lund, Sweden.
Miguel Cardina (2016) Territorializing Maoism: Dictatorship, War, and Anticolonialism in the Portuguese “Long Sixties”. Journal for the Study of Radicalism, 11.2, Fall 1, 2016. DOI: 10.1177/0022009415580143
Sebastian Gehrig (2011) (Re-)Configuring Mao: Trajectories of a Culturo-Political Trend in West Germany . Transcultural Studies, No 2 (2011) http://heiup.uni-heidelberg.de/journals/index.php/transcultural/article/view/9072/3106
Dhruv Jain (2017) Theorists and Thieves. Monthly Review https://monthlyreview.org/archives/2017/volume-69-issue-04-september/
Alexei Volynets (2013) Towards the History of Maoist Dissidence in the Soviet Union https://afoniya.wordpress.com/2013/07/25/towards-the-history-of-maoist-dissidence-in-the-soviet-union-an-article-by-alexei-volynets-part-1/